One of the main reasons pine needle baskets cost so much is because they take a lot of time to make. It’s hard work and doing a quality piece takes lots of practice. It’s not only coiling the piece, but all the work just getting to that point in the process.
Cost of material is not cheap. Pine Needles cost about $20.00 per pound if you have to purchase them. Although I gather my own needles going to pick them up has costs involved including, time, labor and gas (to get to the trees). Sorting and cleaning needles takes considerable time and space.
I also gather, dry and slice my own black walnuts. If I were to purchase the sliced black walnuts they cost $.75 each, The cost of wood (if used) is minimal, but holes must be drilled (very time consuming) and if flowers are to be used, they must be grown or purchased, pressed and dried then decoupage to the wood.
Baskets with large agates in bottom require seed bead bezels around the agates which are hand-made. I can make about 11/2” and hour and most bezels are 12-20”.
Many other items are needed to complete the basket, sewing needles, various types of threads, (I use mostly artificial sinew), gages to keep the coils even, embellishments such as rocks, beads, and the list goes on and on.
After the pine needles are cleaned and sorted, they need to be soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes before the ends can be removed. Removing the ends is incredibly time consuming, as this is done by hand one bunch at a time. After all the preparation work is complete an average basket takes 6-8 hours of coiling. Then baskets must be dried usually overnight. If basket is to have a finish, to give it strength, durability and a longer life it must be applied and an additional drying time is required.
This is a quick overview of what it takes to prepare and make a pine needle piece. I hope this helps to understand some of the steps a coiler must do to bring you such a beautiful basket. Each basket has a little bit of my heart and soul.
Oregon Hand-Crafted Pine Needle Baskets